Ming herbal (painting): Chinese pulsatilla [root]

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Ming herbal (painting): Chinese pulsatilla [root]. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

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Monochrome painting of Chinese pulsatilla (baitouweng, lit. Old Man White-Head)from Diannan bencao tushuo (The Illustrated Yunnan Pharmacopoeia). Diannan bencao tushuo was compiled by the Ming (1368-1644) writer Lan Mao in the 14th-15th century. The word 'Dian' in the title refers to the Yunnan region, in the Southwest of China. It provides a record of the plants and other substances commonly used for medicinal purposes in Yunnan in the Ming period. Most of the entries are illustrated with ink and wash paintings. This manuscript copy was executed in 1773 (38th year of the Qianlong reign period of the Qing dynasty, Gui Si year) by Zhu Jingyang. In the text, Lan Mao states: Chinese pulsatilla has a slender, delicate appearance and a hairy stem. The [Divine Farmer's] Canon of Materia Medica (Benjing) calls it 'ye zhangren' (Old Man of the Wilds). The root is used in medicine. It is bitter in sapor, cold in thermostatic character, and non-poisonous. It has the medicinal properties of clearing heat, cooling the blood, removing poisons and relieving dysentery. It is used to treat conditions such as heat poison, bloody dysentery, warm ague (wen nüe), chills and fever, nosebleeds and toothache.


Chinese pulsatilla [root], tried and tested in Yunnan. Like baiwei ?? (Radix Cynanchi Baiwei), but more delicate and slender and slightly longer. The [Divine Farmer's] Canon of Materia Medica (Benjing) calls it 'ye zhangren' (Old Man of the Wilds. It is bitter in sapor, and non-poisonous. It is indicated for warm ague (wen nüe), mania (kuangzheng), chills and fever (hanre), abdominal masses (zhengjia), accumulations, and Qi goiter; for healing metal-inflicted wounds and nosebleeds; for stopping poison dysentery and bloody dysentery; for abdominal pain, toothache and pains in all the joints, all kinds of wind Qi and malign heat; for warming the small of the back and the knees...


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